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Strategies Against Progress : New Materialist Models to Resist Obsolescence in Technological Sound Practices

Author: Joe Leo Cantrell
Publisher: [La Jolla, Calif.] : University of California, San Diego, 2017. ©2017
Dissertation: Ph. D. University of California at San Diego 2017
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Document : Thesis/dissertation : eBook   Computer File : English
Summary:
Electronic sound artists and musicians, in their choice of the tools of their craft, have a close, working relationship with a specific form of mass-produced commodity, that of technological audio devices. Like other manufactured goods, they originate from a global production system that is historically exploitative, and environmentally unsustainable. The nature of electronic and digital technology, however,  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Dissertations, Academic
Academic theses
Material Type: Document, Thesis/dissertation, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Joe Leo Cantrell
OCLC Number: 1018312073
Notes: David Borgo, advisor.
Description: 1 online resource (192 pages)
Responsibility: by Joe Leo Cantrell.

Abstract:

Electronic sound artists and musicians, in their choice of the tools of their craft, have a close, working relationship with a specific form of mass-produced commodity, that of technological audio devices. Like other manufactured goods, they originate from a global production system that is historically exploitative, and environmentally unsustainable. The nature of electronic and digital technology, however, warrants an additional layer of scrutiny: they are beholden to the expectations of continuous technological improvement and obsolescence. Unlike musicians who perform on a finite number of cherished instruments that are used for decades, electronic musicians' tools are very often subject to the whims and relentless change associated with technologically-driven economic forces. Computer musicians especially, must consistently adapt to and purchase new software and hardware to avoid losing critical functionality and compatibility. The digital musician's position in this process opens questions of principle, regarding the ethical defensibility of self-expressive acts relative to the net negative effect caused by their contribution to technological production methods that promote suffering and global destruction. To counter these continuing tendencies, I offer a reading of new materialist theory with an eye toward how it may be specifically applied to electronic and digital musicians. New materialism projects a monistic perception of the world, in which the differentiation between humans, non-humans, and objects is called into question. Additionally, matter is seen, not as inert, but as being comprised of action, capable of effecting change in the physical world. This dissolution of boundaries is further extended to broader global systems of culture, capital and polity, connecting the very small to the very large. In this way, the ethical consequences of larger systems of influence become intrinsic to physical objects. Applied to technological audio devices, porous boundaries allow a vision of audio technology that is inclusive of all the bodies with which it has come in contact, and urges a limited sense of anthropomorphic identification with its users. This sense of interaction is extended into the realm of audio feedback, in which all audio processors, regardless of their intended functionality, contribute to a common sonic end. Seen in this way, sound technology that was once subject to the whims of constant development, becomes imbued with a personal sense of vitality, making it more difficult to be perceived as a disposable and obsolete.

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